Phil Galfond, the founder of RunItOnce, and one of the most respected poker players in the world has announced on his site’s blog that he intends to open an online poker room sometime in Q1, 2017.
Phil Galfond is going to launch an online poker site.
Where do I start?
I have had a man crush on Galfond since I decided to try and become a professional poker player six years ago. Back then, he was the lead pro on Bluefire Poker, and he was, without a doubt, the best coach amongst an accomplished group.
After Galfond and Bluefire had parted ways, he created the online training site RunItOnce. I have never been a member because it doesn’t provide a player like me with value for money – a point I will return to later – but it’s quite obviously the most sought after online training room with the professional poker playing community.
I have always wondered why an online poker room has never invested some serious time and effort into the creation of an online training centre to run alongside their poker room. I guess we are about to see the reverse happen, and I think Galfond will face a Sisyphean task the likes of which he has never faced before.
A few weeks ago, Galfond appeared on the Joey Ingram Poker Life Podcast where he talked about his customer base at RunItOnce being the professional poker player who was willing to pay $99 per month for coaching. There was little, if any, indication to me that Galfond was interested in serving a different market.
Peter Drucker once said that the purpose of business is to ‘create and keep a customer’. This ideology is the elephant in the room because there are two very different types of clients in poker. There are the people who want to make a living, and there those who want some harmless fun.
What type of customer is Galfond and his team going to ‘create?’
Can he create both the pro and the recreational player?
I don’t think so.
Innovative products create meaning for those that use them. I didn’t follow Galfond to RunItOnce because as a recreational player I didn’t want to pay the $99 fee. And I wouldn’t want to play on an online poker site teaming with players who have been taught to eat fish like me alive.
I can’t imagine for one minute that Galfond will want to create any type of customer. He already has a substantial email list, and I assume he will leverage that to get liquidity up and running and it could turn out to be the most difficult site to turn a profit in the economy.
On the other hand, the timing couldn’t be better. With PokerStars clearly losing the plot since revenue became king and customer service became the chamber pot-boy, the economy is crying out for an online poker room that listens to its clients and adapts accordingly.
A few days ago, I wrote an op-ed for PokerListings stating that Phil Galfond will never be the ambassador for poker that we all so desperately want to be because he doesn’t have a platform like PokerStars to push his beautiful looking mug above the parapet. Things could be very different if he can pull this one off.